Dog Ordinance Causing Overcrowding Issues

Garland County dog ordinance requires "vicious" animals to stay inside a shelter until the owner goes to court.
GARLAND COUNTY, AR -- A new ordinance is causing more overcrowding problems for one local animal shelter.

And, the extra dogs coming in can't be adopted or euthanized.

The vicious and nuisance dog ordinance -- in Garland County -- went into effect in October.

Before then, if a dog bit or attacked, it would be quarantined for no more than ten days.

Now, the animal stays at the shelter until the owner goes to court....which can take months!

Dozens of stray and surrendered dogs are at the Hot Springs Animal Shelter tonight.

Most of them will be adopted or euthanized in about a week.

But for some...they're at the shelter for months, waiting on a court date after biting or attacking a person or another pet.

Animal Services Director, Dan Bug, says, " The trial docket is rather lengthy right now. I think the trial docket is running 90 days out right now which means I'm locked down with that dog for 90 days at least."

Bugg says since October, some dogs can't leave until a judge decides if they're considered a nuisance or vicious.

But with hundreds of cases crowding the courts, that ruling takes a while.

In the meantime, other adoptable dogs are being put to death.

Bugg said, "I don't want them doing that everyday, who wants to do that? They don't want to drive to work everyday saying, 'What do I got to kill today?' What kind of thought is that?"

Miranda Hendricks -- who runs a pit bull rescue organization in Garland County called Strong Paws Dog Rescue -- says the animals are being punished.

She said, "It really comes down to the education of people more than just the dogs."

She says a dog wouldn't bite or attack if the pet's owner trained it right.

"It's not the dog's fault they are the way they are. It's the human. Humans do not socialize them properly and they're not confining them properly," Hendricks said.

Bugg says the Garland County Quorum Court voted on another ordinance that will allow owners to basically "bail" their dogs out of the shelter before their court date, but it will cost the owner $500.

That begins in March.

If the owner decides to keep the dog after it's been declared a nuisance or vicious, there are fines and fees to pay.

Also, the dog must stay confined on the owner's property or muzzled and on a leash when away from home.

Beware of dog signs need to be posted in the owner's yard and the animal must be spayed or neutered.

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